Fundraising at USC Tumbles in Wake of Medical School Scandals

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USC, known nationally for its aggressive fundraising operation, saw contributions tumble in the second half of 2017, a period in which scandals roiled its medical school.

The statue of Tommy Trojan on the USC campus is seen in a file photo. (Credit: (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The statue of Tommy Trojan on the USC campus is seen in a file photo. (Credit: (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

An internal accounting reviewed by The Times shows donations to the university were down nearly $100 million between July and December of last year compared with the same period in 2016. The falloff represents a 22% decline and was particularly severe at the Keck School of Medicine, where donations dropped 55%, or roughly $45 million.

Two weeks after the accounting period’s July 1 start, The Times reported that former Keck dean Carmen Puliafito had used methamphetamine and other drugs while running the medical school and treating patients in a campus eye clinic. USC subsequently acknowledged that President C. L. Max Nikias had kept Puliafito, a prolific fundraiser, in the post despite years of complaints from faculty and staff about his behavior.

In the fall, Puliafito’s replacement as dean was forced out after The Times learned that USC had settled a sexual harassment claim against him, and the top university fundraiser for its health sciences program departed amid accusations that he had harassed female subordinates.

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